Chelsea Should Once Again Bow Down To King Kante

Chelsea have been very impressive since Thomas Tuchel’s arrival in January.

The German boss has brought with him a focus to succeed and the squad have bought into that as they’ve secured a place in the final of the FA Cup and in the Champions League. The Blues are also on course to finish in the Premier League’s top four positions.

At the heart of this resurgence has been frantic French midfielder N’Golo Kante.

The World Cup winner has made twenty appearances for Chelsea since Tuchel has taken the managerial hot-seat at Stamford Bridge.

Kante was sensational when he helped the club to a Premier League title in 2017. But the Frenchman seemed to lose his way somewhat under coaches Maurizio Sarri and Frank Lampard.

Yet, so far, in 2021 Kante has once again started to really dominate the engine-room. That was very evident as Chelsea dumped Real Madrid out of the Champions League this week (BBC Match Report).

The thirty year old seemed to cover every blade of grass as he pounded his opponents into the ground with his harrying and battling. He also surged forward whenever possible to keep Madrid on the back foot. N’Golo played his part in helping create for both of Chelsea’s goals on Wednesday night.

Fellow French World Cup winner Zinedine Zidane was in the opposition dugout but he must’ve spotted it was Kante that seemed to break down his team!

Manchester United Champions League winner Andrew Cole was full of praise:

‘He’s a joke. Seriously, he’s a joke. Watching Chelsea last night, both the goals have come from him breaking play up and slipping someone in.’

‘People didn’t think he could do that but I think he’s proven he can do all that now.’

Via The Metro

Thomas Tuchel was also quick to state his admiration for the midfielder, even before the second leg was decided:

‘He is the guy you need to win trophies and that’s why we’re are so happy he’s here and he’s at our club.’

‘I was dreaming about this player and fighting for this player, dreaming about this player in any club I was coaching so now he’s my player. ‘He’s won every trophy except for Champions League, hopefully he will do everything that we get this trophy and for me he’s an example he’s an unbelievable input for any team in the world.’

‘We are so happy he plays for us’

Via The Metro

Kante’s stats have once again been extremely impressive this term. The tireless middleman has a passing success rate of over 86%, no Blues player has bettered N’Golo’s 2.7 tackles per game and leads the way in terms of interceptions (Stats via Whoscored).

It’s no surprise to see N’Golo Kante at the heart of things as Chelsea surge towards a great ending to their current campaign. He’s an influencer and a leader, all due to his wonderful attitude and his energetic combative style.

If The Blues are to find silverware in the next few weeks, then they’ll once again have to thank King Kante!

Sheffield United Face Challenge In Bouncing Back Into Premier League

Sheffield United’s relegation to the Championship was confirmed after their defeat to Wolverhampton Wanderers in April.

The Blades’ return to the top-flight lasted only two years, with the club suffering from second-season syndrome. Under Chris Wilder, United surprised the Premier League in the 2019/20 campaign by punching above their weight to place in ninth.

However, the Blades were unable to sustain their form into the second year.

Indeed, it took the club eighteen games to muster a victory and they were able to edge past the lowest points tally in the history of the Premier League. Wilder paid the price for their failure (Via The Independent) due to their poor performances, but also after a fallout with owner Prince Musaad bin Khalid Al Saud.

Paul Heckingbottom was charged with overseeing the Blades’ fortunes until the end of the campaign and is one of the favourites to earn the position on a full-time basis.

The choice of manager is one of many issues facing the Blades on their return to the Championship. Norwich City and Watford proved that clubs could bounce back at the first attempt, but the Canaries kept faith in Daniel Farke, while the Hornets maintained the majority of their Premier League squad to dominate the second tier.

United do not tick the first box, but there could be hope for them to mount a challenge for promotion based on the quality of their side. The Blades should certainly be among the leading contenders in the football betting odds to win the Championship or at least finish in the top two. However, they will also have the two other relegated sides for the company along with several talented teams in the second tier that missed out on promotion.

The Blades will be hopeful that the talent in their squad is enough to overcome those potential hurdles. Aaron Ramsdale has not been outstanding this term, but he has the attributes to be a sound keeper in the second tier. George Baldock, Enda Stevens, John Egan, Jack O’Connell and Chris Basham were all in place under Wilder in United’s promotion campaign in the 2018/19 season. Unless they’ve taken a step backwards in the Premier League, they should provide a solid base of protection ahead of Ramsdale.

John Fleck, John Lundstram and Ollie Norwood were the starting midfield for the Blades in their Championship run two years ago. Fleck has displayed ability in the Premier League but is unlikely to attract attention from the top-flight at the age of twenty-nine. Sander Berge could be the midfielder to depart, although he has not quite lived up to the billing of his £22m fee following his move from Genk. At the age of twenty-three, there could be interest if the Blades are willing to take a loss on their deal.

The forward line has been United’s main issue throughout the tenure in the Premier League. The players acquired by Wilder for significant sums failed to rise to the occasion. Rhian Brewster and Oli McBurnie have combined (Source Daily Mirror) for only one league goal in the current campaign, despite an outlay of £40m on the two players.

Brewster performed well in the Championship previously for Swansea City as did McBurnie. Therefore, there could be hope for the Blades that the duo could fire them out of the second tier once again.

There’s definite potential in the ranks, but they have to prove it on the field.

Next season is going to be a tough challenge for Sheffield United to bounce back at the first attempt. Whoever is in the dugout will have a solid squad, but they need to revitalise the team for a new surge at promotion.

Billy Gilmour Can Still Get Into Scotland Euros Squad

Billy Gilmour this weekend started his first Premier League game since Thomas Tuchel took over the Chelsea hot-seat from Frank Lampard in January.

The teenager once again looked fairly impressive as his team strolled to a 2-0 victory over fellow London side Fulham (BBC Match Report).

Gilmour received the ball 68 times during his 90 minute appearance, making fifty passes and enjoying an 85% passing success rate. The central midfielder also won two tackles (Stats from Whoscored).

The nineteen year old’s performance was praised by his manager Thomas Tuchel:

‘Very, very good. He’s a confident guy, he’s well aware of his qualities, which is good.’

‘It was not necessary for him to convince me today because I’m already convinced, otherwise I would not have picked him for the line-up.’

‘So it was necessary that he plays his part, that he helps the team, and this is what he did. I’m happy for him.’

Via The Metro

With The Blues aiming to win two major trophies and finish in the league’s top four, that will mean plenty of games coming in thick and fast. T

hey’re in the final of the FA Cup, in the semis of the Champions League and still have four big Premier League fixtures to play.

That should give young Billy the opportunity to see himself gaining more first team minutes under his belt before the season ends.

That could present Scotland boss Steve Clarke with the idea of taking the young midfield maestro to this summer’s European Championships.

While Scotland do have good midfield competition within their squad, it could be hard to ignore Gilmour if he shines at Stamford Bridge between now and the end of the club campaign.

With Ryan Jack being ruled out of this summer’s tournament and the squad size increasing to 26 (Source BBC Sport), there could be that opportunity for Billy Gilmour to get himself into the mix.

Farnese’s Ryan Gauld and Celtic’s David Turnbull will also be eyeing a last ditch chance to get selected for the Euro squad.

It’s not a bad headache to have for Clarke, who prefers to stay loyal to those that have served him well in the past. The good thing about selecting any of Gilmour, Gauld or Turnbull is the fact that they’ll no doubt be pushing for World Cup qualifying selection once the Euros are over, so that should ease any worries the Scotland manager might have in taking one of the rookies as it’ll provide invaluable experience.

In the long run, Billy Gilmour is the great hope for Scotland. He’s a player that looks the most comfortable in possession and that could be vital if our side doesn’t have midfield general in there like Ryan Jack.

It will be interesting to see who Steve Clarke picks in June. For Billy Gilmour his best chance of getting there will rely on him getting more first team football with Chelsea before the season ends. If he can produce big moments in those big games, then that could give him an edge over rivals!

What Went Wrong for Wolves This Season

Tipped by bookmakers to be an outside shot at upsetting the established order in the Premier League this season, by any metric Wolves have underperformed in 2020/21.

Under Nuno Espirito Santo, this Wolves side has punched above its weight on numerous occasions in the past two years. 

But while Wolves have never done enough to put themselves in danger of anything lower down the table, a top-half finish looks unlikely. In fact, bookmakers have drifted them down the pack in the latest Premier League odds and betting. Undoubtedly Wolves fans were hoping this might be a season that they could push on to bigger and better things – but that will have to wait for another year at least. 

In the two seasons following promotion from the Championship, Nuno took his squad to consecutive seventh-place finishes in the Premier League, including a run to the Europa League quarter-finals last year. But after losing several star players to so-called ‘bigger’ clubs last summer, the Portuguese head coach has endured a difficult campaign in which his side have struggled.

Wolves Toothless Up Front 

Heading into the run-in, Wolves had the fifth-worst goals tally in the Premier League, behind only the relegation zone teams and a Burnley side that hit them for four at Molineux. 

Much of Wolves’ attacking woes revolve around the loss of Raul Jimenez, who suffered a fractured skull in a win over Arsenal in November and was ruled out for much of the season. The Mexican international was Wolves’ top goalscorer for their first two seasons back in the Premier League, including 27 goals in all competitions last year. 

With Jimenez out of the line up as an attacking option, Nuno has been forced to accelerate the development of summer signing Fabio Silva, who arrived from Porto for £35.6m (Via BBC Sport) at the age of only eighteen.

Although talented, Silva has found it tough going in the Premier League at such an early stage in his career. Between him and January loanee Willian José, Wolves’ strikers have contributed only four goals in the league this year. 

Jimenez is not the only absence keenly felt at Molineux. Diogo Jota’s departure to Liverpool in the summer robbed the attacking line of its main source of liveliness and creative energy. Jota was instrumental in Wolves’ 2017/18 promotion campaign and continued to score goals regularly in the Premier League.

Likewise, the transfer of Matt Doherty to Tottenham, where he has struggled to make an impact (Source – Football.London), means this current Wolves squad is a shadow of the side that has been so difficult to beat over the last few years. 

If Wolves are to resume their hunt for European football again next season, first priority will be getting Jimenez back to full health. Nuno will also expect more of his attacking players like Daniel Podence and Adama Traoré, both of whom have immense talent but have lacked consistency either side of highlight-reel performances this season. 

If Nuno can put the pieces back together, Wolves will be back challenging the top sides next year. If not, this season will become the rule, not the exception.

Lyndon Dykes Peaking At Right Time For Scotland

In recent years Scotland have been missing a consistent striker, one who could somehow lead the line.

As a nation we like our forwards to be warriors, that can bully defenders and who will give their all.

When Lyndon Dykes announced his intention to play for Scotland ahead of Australia is was seen as a real coup by many. He had the build and the tenacity to be our new centre forward.

The powerful marksman had proven himself in the Scottish Premiership with Livingston and was that type of grafting striker in which we were missing.

He would impress in his debut against Israel, showing plenty of endeavour and energy in the final third. He would follow that up with his first international goal against the Czech Republic a few days later.

A month later Dykes grabbed a winner at Hampden over Slovakia. He showed with those strikes that he could intelligently find space in the penalty area and dispatch any fine crosses that fell into his path.

Both of those international goals coincided with a decent start to the season for Lyndon at his new club QPR.

Unfortunately his form dipped and goals for his national side would also dry up. Yet the twenty-five year old never dropped his head. He still won headers and knockdowns, he still chased down lost causes and gave Scotland a focal point up-top.

It wasn’t totally surprising to see him lose a bit of form for both QPR and Scotland. Players take time to adapt to different surroundings. It is all about plugging away and getting back out the other side.

Thankfully that seems to have happened for the Scotland marksman in London. Dykes is currently on song at Loftus Road, scoring six goals and creating two assists in his last six appearances. Taking his English Championship tally to twelve strikes in his maiden year.

With the European Championships just around the corner, Lyndon’s return to red hot form couldn’t have happened at a better time for The Tartan Army as they get excited about this summers tournament.

During this purple patch, all of Dykes’ goals have came inside the penalty area and three, like the one above, have come from his head. Again in all his recent goals, Lyndon has shown his superb ability to find space inside the box, which is never easy, and he’s remained calm when a chance presents itself!

He’s already teamed up well with Ryan Fraser and Stephen O’Donnell on the right, it could be a dream for an on form Lyndon Dykes to get superb supply from Andy Robertson or Kieran Tierney on Scotland’s left too.

Importantly for Scotland, Mark Warburton’s QPR side are often set out like a Steve Clarke Scotland team. During this run, The Championship side have gone with either a 3-4-2-1 or a 3-1-4-2 formation. Again this is ideal for our Euro preparations as Dykes will either play as a lone striker or with Che Adams up-top and with a back three in defence.

When it comes to aerial battles, Dykes is winning around five per game and he’s linking up well with those around him (Stat via Whoscored).

The tweet above comes from a QPR fan after Lyndon Dykes broke his goal drought in March. It’s funny because that is definitely the kind of mentality that will be needed to be a successful Scotland striker. You have to dig deep at times and just get your head down and work for that next chance. It can seem like an impossible task but as long as you show passion and continue to work your socks off the Tartan Army will appreciate your effort and will cheer you on!

So here’s hoping that Dykes can continue with this hot streak and have the confidence to lead the line this summer and score the much needed goals that will send Scotland into the next stage of a major tournament!

Ross McCrorie Could Fill Ryan Jack Void For Scotland

Copyright – Scottish FA

Rangers manager Steven Gerrard confirmed today that Scotland midfielder Ryan Jack will miss this summer’s Euros (Source Sky Sports). 

That’s a tough pill for the Tartan Army to swallow as Jack has impressed in the midfield engine-room under Steve Clarke. We look to be at our most solid with Ryan patrolling in front of the backline. He was particularly impressive in our home win over the Czech Republic and in our play-off victory over Serbia

While Scotland do have a talented group of midfielders in our pool, we don’t actually have too many ball winners in there. When you look at the recent games in which we’ve missed Ryan Jack, the team have looked more vulnerable; we haven’t closed down often enough and struggled to turnover possession. 

With that in mind, I wonder if Scotland boss Clarke will consider calling Aberdeen’s Ross McCrorie into his Euro 2020 squad? 

I know many will suggest selecting David Turnbull but the Celtic star offers more going forward and offers similar qualities as Stuart Armstrong and Ryan Christie. That’s not what we need when replacing Ryan Jack. 

McCrorie would give us a player that’s used to playing with defensive discipline. 

According to Whoscored, Ross makes on average two tackles per Premiership game and that sees him up there as one of the most proficient tacklers in Scotland’s top flight. McCrorie makes more tackles per game than current Scotland midfielders John McGinn, Scott McTominay, John Fleck, Kenny McLean and Callum McGregor. 

At just over 6ft, The Dons man would also add height to the middle of the park. Scotland has missed that presence when McTominay has been asked to play in a back three. Ross McCrorie is winning around four aerial battles per league appearance this season. That’s considerably more than any other midfielder I’ve mentioned in this article. 

The twenty-three year old can bring added versatility to the squad. He’s able to fill in at right-back and as a centre-back. Although he’d be selected primarily as a holding midfielder.

Steve Clarke has already pointed out the usefulness in having a versatile player like McCrorie within his plans:

“He has done very well for Derek (McInnes) in Aberdeen in central midfield but he can also play at the back and he can play right-back, so he is good cover.”

Via STV

Now Ross’ form may have dipped in the second half of the season, much like everyone else at Pittodrie. But things have improved as of late and the youngster might actually thrive playing in a different environment.

It should also be noted that he has vast experience with the Under-21s, having won 18 caps under Scot Gemmill. He’s also tasted European football with both Rangers and Aberdeen. The midfielder’s early season form even won him a cll-up into the senior squad back in October. 

I have no doubts this is a dilemma that Steve Clarke would have wanted to avoid, as I said previously Ryan Jack had become a vital component within our squad. Alas these are situations that always seem to arise as a nation prepares for a summer tournament. 

It will be interesting to see how our manager deals with the problem and who he selects but I’d definitely suggest he thinks about the qualities Ross McCrorie brings to the table.

Patient Phill Foden Showing He Was Right To Stick With Pep And Man City

I often think it’s too easy for people to look at footballers and forget that they are individuals.

Many were critical of Pep Guardiola as they felt that the Spaniard should play young maestro Phil Foden more in the Manchester City.

Some felt that Foden should leave The Etihad and seek his opportunities elsewhere. Following the route of Jadon Sancho, who went abroad and found first-team fame at Borussia Dortmund.

In 2018, well respected football writer Brian Glanville stated in World Soccer that the player should forget about small cameos and go out on loan.

Then in 2019, England legend and former City boss Stuart Pearce urged Phil to force for a loan move:

“In January, he [Foden] really needs to look at where he is at the moment,” 

“Game time is absolutely vital for a player of his age.

“He’s coming to that age where he needs to play some games. I think six months out on loan, if he hasn’t broken into the team, would do him the world of good.”

Via Talksport

Yet Foden sat back and let Pep guide his career. The coach clearly had a plan for the attacking midfielder and that didn’t involve burning the talent out by overplaying him as a youth.

Foden would often warm the bench but even that was a learning experience for the young player as he had the pleasure of watching the likes of Bernardo Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. Guardiola obviously felt Phil would learn more from training with those world class stars than he would by going down to The Championship or playing at another Premier League side that could’ve possibly mismanaged him.

I think we are really starting to see the benefits that comes with that patience.

In a Champions League quarter-final tie that had everyone talking about another precocious talent in Erling Haaland, it was Phil Foden who would be difference maker.

He was the only player at this stage of the illustrious competition to score in both quarter-finals legs. Overall the young Englishman had six shots at goal, completed five dribbles, created four chances for teammates and also completed six tackles. In both of those victories over Dortmund, Foden recorded a passing success rate of 89% or over and made more than 50 passes per game too! (Stats found at Whoscored)

In his twenty-four Premier League appearances (14 starts – a new record amount for the player), the creative midfielder has scored six goals and made five assists. Only De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling have created more assists for runaway league leaders this season.

The twenty year old is maturing nicely into becoming a really important member of this Manchester City team. He has wonderful ability on the ball; can spot a key pass, is brilliant when it comes to retaining possession and he glides across the pitch like all great players do!

Phil Foden also stars in the big encounters. I’ve already discussed his fine outings against Borussia Dortmund but he also shone against Chelsea and Liverpool this term (Scoring and creating assists against both sides).

His performances have seen him win call-ups into Gareth Southgate’s England set-up. The midfielder now has six caps and two goals for his nation. He’s surely going to make it into Southgate’s England starting line-up never mind just the squad for this summers Euros.

Phil Foden has shown that he was right to trust Pep Guardiola and stick it out at Manchester City. Every player has their own path to follow and while Jadon Sancho has succeeded doing it one way, it’s great for aspiring young footballers to see you can also go all the way from the academy to a first team!

Premier League Promotion – Looking At Brentford’s Chances

Following Brentford Football Club has been a rollercoaster ever since Matthew Benham bought The Bees back in 2012.

His exotic job title – the millionaire owner is a professional gambler – made him a firm favourite with the media, and Brentford received plenty of column inches as a result.

However, the main man is also a shrewd investor, implementing the Moneyball system seen in baseball (Source – The Guardian) to great effect. It was all looking rosy, particularly as the London-based outfit were on course for automatic promotion this season.

However, the team has hit a bump in the road, leading fans and pundits to question whether they have blown their chance. 

An Imperfect Storm 

At this delicate stage of the season, the clubs pushing for promotion hope they can peak at the ideal time to propel their chances of either securing automatic promotion or landing in the playoffs. Sadly, for Brentford, they are going the other way as a run of bad form has seen them draw three very winnable games before finally ending their poor run with win over Preston North End

With a run-in that includes rivals Cardiff City, Bournemouth and Watford, there could be more trouble on the horizon as the fixture list hasn’t been good to them. It gets worse for The Bees since their top players are attracting interest from Premier League outfits such as Southampton (Via The Standard). 

The recent poor results will have panicked fans. The Championship betting makes them 66/1 to win the league outright. This suggests that the team’s main avenue is via the dreaded play-offs, a tournament where anything can happen. 

Bad Memories 

Speaking of The Championship play-offs, Brentford doesn’t have positive memories of the competition. The last time they played was in 2020 when they were thirty minutes away (BBC Match Report) from a penalty shootout. Unfortunately for them, Fulham struck twice to land the most lucrative knockout tournament in world football. 

Being only last year, the scars are still bound to be raw for everyone involved. It’s not often you get the opportunity to play in the Promised Land, only for the dream to fade away in front of your eyes. This Brentford squad has experienced the feeling and will need plenty of resolve to make it all the way to the final. 

Considering the side were nailed on to avoid the round-robin a few weeks ago, it will only make the post-season more challenging. 

New Players 

One thing they do have in their favour is the arrival of new players. Ollie Watkins left for Aston Villa, leaving a massive hole in the forward line. Thankfully for Brentford FC, Ivan Toney has done it with aplomb. 

With twenty-nine goals in thirty-seven games, the striker is a deadly finisher who will give The Bees the type of threat that most teams in The Championship would kill for. The fact Toney has ten assists – joint third on the list (Stats Via WhoScored)– makes him even more valuable as he’s a clinical goalscorer who can also provide. Holding the league’s current top goalscorer mantle, Bees boss Thomas Frank will be hoping he remains fit for the remainder of the campaign. 

They might not win the league outright, yet Brentford still have the safety net of the playoffs on which to fall back. But that’s still a very nervy way to earn that final Premier League spot.

Guessing Scotland’s Euro 2020 Squad

We are getting ever closer to Euro 2020 and as a Scotland fan I really can’t wait!

With that in mind, I have decided to name to Scotland squads. The first will be the squad that I would take and the second is the one I think Scotland boss Steve Clarke will go for.

I have gone for those that will hopefully be fit for the finals and on the basis Allan McGregor doesn’t come out of retirement. I have also selected twenty-six players in each pool as I think the squad numbers will be increased for this tournament.

MY SCOTLAND SQUAD

Goalkeepers

David Marshall (Derby County), Craig Gordon (Hearts) and Jon McLaughlin (Rangers).

Defenders

Andrew Robertson CAPT (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Liam Cooper (Leeds United), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Nathan Patterson (Rangers), Josh Doig (Hibs), Grant Hanley (Norwich City) & Jack Hendry (Oostende).

Midfielders

Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Callum McGregor (Celtic), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Ryan Jack (Rangers), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), James Forrest (Celtic), Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United), David Turnbull (Celtic) and Ryan Gauld (Farnese).

Forwards

Lyndon Dykes (QPR), Ché Adams (Southampton), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United) and Kevin Nisbet (Hibs).

Predicted Steve Clarke Squad

Goalkeepers

David Marshall (Derby County), Craig Gordon (Hearts) and Jon McLaughlin (Rangers).

Defenders

Andrew Robertson CAPT (Liverpool), Kieran Tierney (Arsenal), Stephen O’Donnell (Motherwell), Liam Palmer (Sheffield Wednesday), Scott McKenna (Nottingham Forest), Andrew Considine (Aberdeen), Declan Gallagher (Motherwell), Grant Hanley (Norwich City), Greg Taylor (Celtic) & Jack Hendry (Oostende).

Midfielders

Scott McTominay (Manchester United), Callum McGregor (Celtic), John McGinn (Aston Villa), Ryan Christie (Celtic), Ryan Jack (Rangers), Stuart Armstrong (Southampton), James Forrest (Celtic), Kenny McLean (Norwich City) and John Fleck (Sheffield United).

Forwards

Lyndon Dykes (QPR), Ché Adams (Southampton), Oli McBurnie (Sheffield United) and Ryan Fraser (Newcastle United).

Analysing Club Allegiances & Asking If They Can Influence England Squad Selections

Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the March World Cup qualifiers certainly made him public enemy number one in West Yorkshire.

The ire of the Leeds United fans fell upon the England manager after it emerged that he had selected Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins ahead of Patrick Bamford.

Many were left scratching their heads at this decision given Bamford’s superior goal and assist tally to that of Watkins’. Indeed, the list of the Premier League’s top scorers (Stat BBC Sport) at the start of the March international break showed Bamford in fourth position with fourteen goals, astonishingly, not far behind Harry Kane who tops the charts. Crucially, it’s also worth noting that Bamford could indeed be tied with Kane in the race for the Premier League’s Golden Boot if it weren’t for some desperately unlucky VAR decisions going against him. 

Ollie Wakins, meanwhile, has now scored twelve. The Villa striker is also lagging behind Bamford in terms of league assists after registering three whilst Bamford has recorded an impressive seven. 

Further analysis of the comparison between the seasons that Watkins and Bamford are both having shows that the Leeds Utd forward also has a better minutes-per-goal ratio. 

Try as one might, it’s hard to ever recall a striker being called up to the England squad who averaged a goal more than every 4.2 hours in the Premier League. Perhaps Emile Heskey or Andy Carroll did, but even then, both those players were target men whose jobs were to work in tandem with their quicker counterparts, the telepathic little and large strike partnerships if you will. In Watkins’ case, however, he is the Michael Owen to Heskey’s tireless work rate being a striker that makes a living off hanging on the shoulders of the defenders. 

Indeed, having put the available stats and evidence under the microscope, you can all of a sudden understand why there was such an uproar in Leeds after the decision. 

Now, fans are always going to be aggrieved whenever an England manager neglects one of their players who is producing the goods at club level. It’s an age-old story of a fan base’s indignation which leads to wild theories as to why. But when the evidence is so startlingly clear like it is in Bamford’s case, what possible defence is there for Southgate’s decision not to call him up in his last Three Lions squad? (Squad Via FA.com)

Could Southgate’s Aston Villa connection have played a role in his decision to pick Watkins ahead of Bamford? The England manager did turn out 219 times for The Villains over the course of six years. Admittedly, the last thing the world needs in 2021 is another conspiracy theory but when the evidence of Bamford’s superiority in front of goal is so overwhelming, one is forced to perhaps connect dots that aren’t there in a bid to make sense of it all. 

What’s done is done though and Ollie Watkins had the privilege of joining up with an England squad that are the joint-favourites to win the Euros. Indeed, when you bet on football at Space Casino, you’ll see that the Three Lions are well placed to win the summer showdown. There really isn’t a better time to be involved with the England national team.

In Watkins’ case, he grabbed a debut goal against San Marino and he’s now in serious contention to win the Euro 2020 with England. 

For Patrick Bamford, he hasn’t been under the Wembley arch yet but he continues to further his footballing education under Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds United. Who knows, he might still have a chance of claiming a spot in Southgate’s squad!